Common Tonalities

Common Tonalities is a project that explores Southeast Asian tuning systems and scales through modern music technologies for the creation of new music. 

In the Philippines, Maranao and Magindanao musicians tuned their gongs based on the first gong they had created and based the succeeding gongs and notes accordingly; thus, no two sets of gongs are exactly the same. This is also true with Indonesian Gamelan instruments, and traditional musical forms. This shows that music from Southeast Asia does not conform to Western tuning concepts or standards.

Widely available music production tools are largely based on the Western system of twelve tone Equal Temperament and the tuning reference of A = 440 Hz. Recent software development by collaborations of artists such as Khyam Allami with software developers like Counterpoint (Leimma, Apotome) and Aphex Twin and Oddsound (MTS-ESP) have been pushing to allow creative access to systems outside twelve-tone equal temperament. 

Nusasonic advocates for an expansion of sonic palettes with a focus on music from Southeast Asia. We invite participants to a series of workshops, led by Khyam Allami, that focus on the subject of tuning and the cultural biases in music technologies, the practical analysis of tuning systems of Southeast Asian music based on published resources and archival recordings, and how to use them in various creative musical processes. Participants are expected to attend all workshops and create new pieces of music with tonalities, scales, and rhythms endemic to Southeast Asia. Common Tonalities will culminate in a freely accessible compilation album grouping the resulting new tracks.

Following an open call, 20 musicians/researchers were selected to participate in the project:
Alicia de Silva (Singapore), Ayankoko (Laos), CJ Camelia Jonathan (Indonesia), Corin Ileto (Philippines/Australia), Drago Katzov (Philippines), Elisha Tiga (Brunei Darussalam), Ha Thuy Hang (Vietnam), Kasimyn (Indonesia), Kengchakaj (Thailand/USA), Liew Niyomkarn (Thailand/Belgium), Lynn Nandar Htoo (Myanmar),  Pinky Htut (Myanmar), Rani Jambak (Indonesia), rEmPiT g0dDe$$ (Malaysia), Safuan Johari (Singapore), Septian Dwi Cahyo (Indonesia), Tam Thi Pham (Vietnam/Germany), wanhazan (Malaysia/USA), Yaboi Hanoi (Thailand/China), Zach Sch (Vietnam).